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'We need Lebanon as a peaceful space', says Egypt's former foreign minister

© Photography by FRANCE 24 | Amr Moussa, Egypt's former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Text by Monique EL-FAIZY

Latest update : 2017-11-11

Amr Moussa, longtime Secretary General of the Arab League and former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Egypt, took time out to chat with FRANCE 24 during the international MEDays Forum this week in Tangier, Morocco.

A speaker at this year’s MEDays Forum -- an annual talkfest billed as the “Davos of Africa” -- Mr Moussa shared with FRANCE 24 his thoughts on the critical issues affecting Egypt and its regional neighbours.

On rising tensions in the Middle East and the potential for conflict in Lebanon

Amr Moussa: It’s already very hot in the region and [there's been] a lot of attention since the so-called Arab Spring. But the situation now is going [into] another phase between the Iranian and Arab forces.

We all on the Arab side believe that Lebanon should be spared the rigors of such a conflict and that its people should enjoy the feeling of stability without foreign intervention. As we see, Lebanon is embroiled in bigger conflicts around it. We hope that there will be no wars in Lebanon. We need Lebanon as a peaceful space and a very productive one in that matter, presenting a different Arab situation. But I recognise that it is difficult for Lebanon, or any other country, to extricate itself from the general conflict in the region.

On Egyptian instability

Amr Moussa: Regardless of or despite the active attacks and aggressions of terrorist organisations, the country enjoys stability. Look at the rest of this area and how tense it is. We hope and we continue to do whatever is possible to spare Egypt the rigors of this kind of chaos.

On human rights in Egypt

Amr Moussa: I would say that it is an unneeded discussion. Challenges are so serious in the Middle East…so it is not a question of this detail or that detail. The issue of human rights is an issue pertaining to so many countries in the world. Even in America we are talking about violations of human rights. In certain European countries we are talking about that. In Asia, the Rohingya, all those things. So this is a bigger issue than Egypt or country X or country Y.

Egypt's biggest challenge

Amr Moussa: Well it is not one, but several -- stability, poverty, corruption and terrorism.

Water shortage is also one of the biggest problems under the banner of climate change. We need sound water policies in order not to enter into wars about water, or confrontations about water, or instability because of the shortage of water. This needs a wise kind of coordination and understanding among all the Africans that we should all cooperate, in order to guarantee that all African countries enjoy enough water according to their needs.

We are doing it so far as Egypt and Ethiopia are concerned. We are doing whatever we can in order to have a general agreement between both of us and the rest of the Nile Basin countries that all needs will be guaranteed -- not affected -- through a process of cooperation between the Nile countries.

Date created : 2017-11-11

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